You may have read in my Heart Week post last month that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Australian women. Yes, really – scary, isn’t it?! In order to encourage women to make healthier choices and reduce their risk of heart disease, The National Heart Foundation of Australia organises every year the Go Red for Women campaign.
With heart disease, there are some risk factors that you can’t change, such as getting older, your gender and having a family history of heart disease, but there are also other factors that you can control, such as smoking, blood pressure and cholesterol.
To make sure I was on track I decided to visit my local GP for a heart check. The appointment lasted about 15 minutes. We first talked about my family history. I explained to the doctor my concerns about heart disease given that my maternal grand-mother passed away at 60 from a fatal stroke. Dad is also suffering from high cholesterol and clogged arteries (arterial plaque). He had surgery last year.
During the second part of the visit, the doctor asked questions about my lifestyle habits. I used to be a smoker but I quit over 5 years ago, which is a good thing especially because I’m using an oral contraceptive (the combination of the two increases risk of heart, stroke and blood vessel disease). I exercise a couple of times a week, my BMI is in the normal range and I eat healthy (most of the time). I drink alcohol only on occasions and watch how much salt I eat by avoiding processed foods.
The doctor then measured my blood pressure which was 110/70. He said it was good. We also looked back at the results from a routine blood test I did about 6 months ago and the GP explained how cholesterol increases the risks of heart disease. There are often no symptoms associated with cholesterol and you don’t need to be overweight to have high cholesterol levels, hence the importance to get your level checked regularly.
The GP concluded that my risk of getting cardiovascular disease in the next five years was low. Relief! He however insisted on the importance of exercising more regularly, especially as I’m getting older and given my family history.
To find out more about the Go Red for Women initiative,
visit the Heart Foundation’s website
Have you ever had a heart check?
What do you do to reduce your risk of heart disease?
This post was sponsored by The Heart Foundation who asked me to share my thoughts and experience – all words are entirely my own.